From “NWTC medical program achieves national distinction” — Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has received a Certificate of Merit from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting for achieving a graduate pass rate above 90 percent on the national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credentialing exam.

NWTC is one of only 152 colleges in the nation to achieve the distinction.

Students in NWTC’s Surgical Technologist program prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments, equipment, drapes and solutions.  They also provide safe patient care, check charts, assist the surgeon mid-surgery, and help transfer patients to the recovery room among a variety of other duties.

In a 2011-2012 Graduate Follow-up, Surgical Technologist graduates reported job placement rates of nearly 90 percent, working as surgical technologists, central supply technicians, private scrub technologists, and claims approvers. Median wages for graduates was over $36,000.

NWTC’s Surgical Technologist technical diploma is a three-semester program that is completed in 37 credits. For more information on the Surgical Technologist technical diploma and other programs and degrees, visit

Work + education = success

August 29, 2013

From “MPS takes a look at intensive technical training proposal” — What has proven to be one effective way to get Wisconsin high school students at risk of dropping out to earn their diploma and reinvest themselves in their future?

Pay them to do it.

That’s what the rapidly expanding GPS Education Partners, formerly the Second Chance Partners for Education, has been doing for more than 10 years in the state.

But these students aren’t just taking handouts. They’re earning their pay by working nearly full time in various businesses — primarily within manufacturing and similar technical fields — while also taking classes toward their diploma year-round on-site.

This fall, the group, which boasts a 90% high school graduation rate and 203 graduates to date, is seeking to expand into Milwaukee Public Schools and serve eight to 10 students across the city in its first year.

The group’s contract goes before the School Board for approval Thursday night, and the administration backs the approval of the program, according to MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia.

The city would be the 16th site in Wisconsin for GPS Education Partners. If the contract is approved, the group would have 215 students enrolled in the 21-month program, which relies on partnerships with businesses and school districts to function.

In Milwaukee, students would likely be selected from interested applicants at Bradley Tech High School, James Madison High School and the School of Career and Technical Education, formerly known as Custer High School, according to Tagliavia.

Those students would spend time working at Strattec Security Corp., Monarch LLC, Brady Corp. and others, according to an announcement from the education nonprofit earlier this summer.

The selected students typically are chosen because they have struggled or have become disengaged in a traditional high school setting and are interested in pursuing a technical career after high school. During the program, the students rotate between two to three different businesses and learn six to 10 different manufacturing jobs over the 21 months. Students typically begin the program in their junior year.

For six hours a day, students work alongside an adult mentor in manufacturing plants or warehouses and learn different skills, from welding to skills with technology and heavy machinery. For two hours a day, the students converge in a classroom on-site at one of the businesses and are taught traditional academic material by a state certified teacher.

In addition to a diploma from their original high school and graduating with their class, the students earn a two-year Youth Apprenticeship Certificate from the state Department of Workforce Development and earn advanced standing in the Wisconsin Technical College System. They also become a certified production technician though the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council.

Both Tagliavia and MPS’ Career and Technical Education coordinator Eric Radomski said the program fits into MPS’ mission because it provides another pathway that could contribute to success for the students involved.

“Our goal is that students graduate with the skill set necessary to succeed in whichever path they’re interested,” Tagliavia says.

Tagliavia says the program’s successful track record makes him optimistic that the program will succeed in the city. The organization has worked in surrounding suburbs as well as cities such as Green Bay and Appleton, but MPS will be the first time GPS has operated in a completely urban setting.

GPS President Stephanie Borowski says she is confident the model will translate effectively into the city, saying there is a high level of flexibility within the classrooms because of the low student-to-teacher ratio, which consistently hovers around 8-to-1.

While MPS has many other programs that are geared toward introducing students to technical fields and preparing those interested in the field for that pursuit, GPS Education Partners would be the most intense technical program within the district.

While other programs offer students the opportunity to work in such a setting, none goes as far as educating the students on-site in a classroom at one of the businesses.

Garrett Crish graduated, by virtue of the program, from Menomonee Falls High School in 2009.

To this day, Crish, who now works in a New Berlin warehouse, credits the organization with turning his life around.

“I can honestly say that the Second Chance Program changed my life. I was on the fast track to nowhere, and at the time I couldn’t have cared less,” Crish says. “Working in real warehouses with real hardworking people was the strong kick in the butt I needed as a 17-year-old.”

Crish, 23, said that while the program did not directly land him a job upon graduation, it gave him the tools and work ethic he needed to impress during a seasonal job at a warehouse that eventually landed him a full-time job at the New Berlin distribution center.

David Mitchell, president and CEO of Monarch LLC, which has worked with the group since 2010 and typically brings in two students each year through the program, will add one MPS student this year if the contract is approved Thursday, he said.

The company, which specializes in the fabrication of heavy equipment, allows the students to develop welding skills.

Mitchell says one student excelled during his time with the company and was in turn hired on upon his graduation as a welder.

Borowski says 60% of past students have gone on to immediately seek work after the program, 35% have continued on with their education beyond high school and 5% join the military.

For the business, the cost is “relatively low,” Mitchell says, though Monarch does not break even on the program. He says he looks at it as giving back to the community as well as preparing the next generation of the workforce.

GPS Educational Partners maintains its financing through donations as well as shared per-pupil allotments from the state with participating districts and contributions from participating businesses.


■ Students rotate among two to three businesses and learn six to 10 manufacturing jobs over 21 months.

■ For six hours a day, students work alongside an adult mentor in manufacturing plants or warehouses.

■ For two hours a day, students converge in a classroom on-site at one of the businesses and are taught traditional academic material by a state certified teacher.


From “From referendum to reality” — by Jen Zettel -These are heady times at Fox Valley Technical College, as finishing touches are being put on two major projects authorized in a 2012 referendum.

By a 2-1 margin, voters approved a $66.5 million referendum that called for the construction of three new facilities and the expansion of two existing buildings.

The college will host a media event Wednesday at its Appleton campus to unveil the $11.9 million Health Simulation and Technology Center.

The focus this week was a naming rights agreement with Service Motor Co. of Dale for the agriculture center, which received a $3.5 million expansion from the referendum. The facility is almost completed. An open house for both facilities is set for Oct. 1.

Nearly 2,800 square feet of classrooms and computer labs were added for agribusiness courses. Existing spaces were renovated into labs for hands-on learning.

Dustin Korth, a 20-year-old agribusiness and science technology student from Waldo, likes the flexibility of the new spaces.

“This is beautiful … the new classrooms are 10 times better than they were before,” Korth said. “It’s nice to have more room to accommodate more students. Like last year, packing 28 students into some rooms with four rows of tables was not comfortable at all.”

The agriculture industry is not just alive and well in Wisconsin, but flourishing, said Jim Sommer, president of Service Motor Co. The increased demand for agriculture programs — which has grown at FVTC by 87 percent since 2008 — is why the company continues its 30-plus year relationship with the college.

The equipment dealer solidified its ties to FVTC even further by donating $1.1 million for naming rights to the newly expanded agriculture center, now known as the Service Motor Co. Agriculture Center at Fox Valley Technical College.

The gift is a combination of student scholarships, equipment donations and financial support, Sommer said.

The need for skilled workers in precision agriculture, agricultural power and agribusiness will increase as technology advances, Sommer said.

“We know there’s going to be a growing need. Over the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll need employees,” Sommer said. “By providing financial support, we’re hoping to ensure quality graduates.”

The new Health Simulation and Technology Center will be a hub for the college’s medical-related programs. The three-story building features a virtual hospital, classrooms, a computer lab and physical therapy suites.

The facility will provide students with experience in real-world situations.

Bob Sternhagen, human patient simulation coordinator, said every major institution that trains medical professionals has a simulation lab.

“That’s the beauty of simulation: students can mess up, they can make mistakes and nobody gets harmed,” Sternhagen said.

Students also will learn how to work with professionals in other areas, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, medical assistants, nurses and occupational therapy assistants.

“This is patient care as a cooperative type of event because whatever a police officer does on the scene of an auto crash will impact what a paramedic or EMT does, which will impact what an ER doctor does … it may mean the difference between a patient not surviving or surviving with a poor outcome,” Sternhagen said.

Officials invited members of the Fox Valley Healthcare Alliance to tour the facility earlier this week. Education consultant Jen Meyer represented ThedaCare, and she was impressed.

“It’s unreal,” Meyer said. “This is such a valuable asset for our community. Not only will it provide an amazing opportunity for area students, but for our existing health care workforce as well.”


From “WITC ranks 4th best two-year college in the nation” — Students at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior have a lot to be proud of in their school.

A recent study by Washington Monthly ranks WITC the 4th best two year college nationwide, moving the university up two spots from 2010.

In 2007, Washington Monthly combined results from a nonprofit organization called the Community College Survey of Student Engagement with graduation rates published by the U.S. Department of Education to create the first-ever list of America’s best community/technical colleges. That year, WITC ranked seventh.

In 2010, updated information was compiled and WITC moved up to sixth.

This year, the list was updated with new CCSSE data ranking roughly 700 community/technical colleges nationwide in order to identify the 50 best community/technical colleges of 2013, moving WITC up to 4th place.

“The movement up in the rankings is confirmation that the College’s strategic plan and continuous improvement activities are making a difference for our students,” says WITC President Bob Meyer. “These results show how incredibly committed WITC’s entire staff is to making the students’ experience at WITC outstanding and rewarding.”

The CCSSE survey is comprised of more than 100 questions on a range of topics including teaching practices, student workload, interaction with faculty, and student support.

WITC’s highest CCSSE scores were reflected in the “Active and Collaborative Learning” category. The WITC benchmark for “Student-faculty Interaction” was also high.


From “BTC – Monroe campus director named” — MONROE — Matthew Urban, a native of Monroe who has spent the past five years in three different roles at Blackhawk Technical College-Monroe Campus, has been named Director of the Monroe Campus by BTC President Dr. Thomas Eckert.

Urban will be responsible for the overall administrative operations and public outreach at the Monroe Campus.

Urban succeeds Jennifer Thayer, who left BTC to become the Superintendent of Schools in New Glarus.

Urban began his BTC career in 2007 as an Adjunct Instructor before adding the jobs of Learning Resource Specialist and Student Development Specialist to his responsibilities.

Prior to joining BTC, Urban spent 13 years as the Executive Director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also served as the Community Relations Coordinator at The Monroe Clinic and Operations and Programming Director for radio station WEKZ.

Urban is a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication. In 2010, he earned a Masters of Science degree in Education at UW-Platteville.


From “AT&T donation will support program designed to educate, encourage high school students to consider jobs in the manufacturing field” — AT&T Wisconsin announced today that the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) Foundation has received a $5,000 AT&T Innovation & Investment Award to support the “Schools2Skills™” program.

The “Schools2Skills™” program takes Waukesha County high school students, parents and educators on tours of three manufacturing facilities and the WCTC Engineering and Manufacturing Center. The goal is to inspire participants to learn about manufacturing careers available in Waukesha County, including career paths, salaries and the education required to succeed in today’s manufacturing environment.

“We know many of our manufacturers are looking for workers to fill highly skilled, technologically advanced jobs,” said Ellen S. Phillips, President of WCTC Foundation. “Part of our mission is to educate our young people that manufacturing has changed and evolved over time. Today’s manufacturing is much more advanced and focused on technology, and this AT&T contribution will help us further our efforts to educate and encourage students to consider exciting careers in manufacturing.”

A partnership with the WCTC Foundation and the Waukesha County Business Alliance, the “Schools2Skills™” program was created to address the manufacturing talent shortage in Waukesha County. The program provides high school students from 12 different school districts in Waukesha County with an introduction to the careers that exist in manufacturing. About 500 students are expected to participate this coming school year.

“The WCTC Foundation and Waukesha County Business Alliance are doing important work to connect our manufacturers with the skilled workers they need to continue to compete in today’s high-tech, global economy,” said State Senator Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee). “This program is a great way to get young people excited about and engaged in the manufacturing profession.”

The AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award program provides funding to organizations and programs that improve the community by: advancing education, enhancing the environment, promoting economic development, or delivering other community services. This is the second year of the new program that supports local organizations that enhance and give back to their communities.

“We are very proud to support the efforts of Waukesha County business and education leaders to engage students in the exciting, promising careers available in advanced manufacturing,” said AT&T Wisconsin Director of External Affairs Tricia Conway. “As a company, AT&T is committed to investing in education and helping prepare our young people for future success.”

From “Jail educators prep for GED test changes” — Changes are coming to the GED test in Wisconsin that could make it harder to pass the high school equivalency exam.

Willa MacKenzie is the jail educator from Western Technical College. She works with inmates at the La Crosse County Jail, in an effort to help them complete their GED. In 2012 and 2013 about 40 percent of those who started the exam, successfully competed it.

“The thing about the jail setting is they don’t have that outside network of friends to deal with,” MacKenzie. “They don’t have the problems and the addictions in jail so it really is a nice clean, clear time for them to complete.”

Beginning January 1, there will be changes to the GED in the state of Wisconsin. The test will only be administered on a computer, so test takers must have basic keyboarding and computer skills. It will also be harder..and condensed in to four sections instead of five

“We’ve raised the level of things people need to be able to do,” said Chad Dull, the dean of instructional support services at Western Technical College. “There’s very little memorization, it’s more comprehension and being able to respond to text and make an argument.”

While the new test is more difficult, educators say those who successfully complete it are more prepared to continue their education or enter the workforce.

“On the current test, when you write you write a 5 paragraph essay based on a random prompt, which is not a very real world thing to do,” Dull said. “Now you’re going to read things and respond to them in writing which really mirrors more of what most of us do in the real world.”

Mackenzie says many of the inmates she works with have the skills to pass the exam, they just need to know how to apply them.

“What we’re looking for is them to understand something they read, understand what the argument is and use that argument to back up their opinion,” MacKenzie said. “And I think that’s what these people can do in real time and that’s what gets them ready for the work force. So I think those skills together that they already have on board, for survival skills, if we can channel those, they’re going to be good.”

Anyone in the jail interested in completing their GED is able to get in to the classroom 3 to 4 times a week. And Mackenzie says if you started the GED, you must finish before the new test in January, or you will have to start over.



From “Building inspector making Milwaukee ‘a better place to live'” — By Tom Dakin – By the time she was 8 years old, Stacey Tyler’s dad was taking her along to help out on handyman jobs he did in his spare time. Over 30 years later, Tyler is a city building inspector at Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services. Tyler, who jokingly calls herself a “professional household technician,” has worked at the department for 13 years and focuses mainly on inspecting residential rental properties.

On its most basic level, Tyler’s job involves making Milwaukee “a better place to live,” she said.

“I try to make sure that the constituents I deal with are living in places that have very minimal violations, and that there are no health and safety violations that would affect them, or their children,” Tyler said.

Tyler typically spends about half of her work day doing building inspections, with the other half of her day tied to writing reports to correct building code violations and other matters. She is currently assigned to an area on Milwaukee’s north side.

How did you get the job? Tyler was working at a medical company, where her duties included scheduling services for patients and ordering supplies. She saw a job description for building inspectors, and thought the work sounded interesting. Tyler was hired as a Department of Neighborhood Services intern, and after completing the two-year program was hired as an inspector.

What kind of education did you need? A high school diploma was required to become a department intern. The internship included taking courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College in such areas as technical math and architectural drawings.

Tyler also had practical experience in home repairs and maintenance. Her father, Robert, who died last year, taught her at a young age such tasks as preparing walls for painting and applying the floor seal when installing a new toilet.

As an alternative to the internship program, the department’s minimum requirements are an associate’s degree in the field of architecture, real estate, fire safety, environmental health, law enforcement or building trades, and two years of work experience in one of those specialties above the level of laborer.

What do you like about the job? “I enjoy going out and meeting the constituents. There are a lot of interesting personalities in the city of Milwaukee. And I have great co-workers. … I really like the fact that I can set up my own schedule. I like going out on my aldermanic walks because I can be heard by the people who have questions that need to be answered. It gives you a chance to be one-on-one with the constituents.”

What are some of the challenges? For Tyler, who’s a mom, perhaps the most difficult situation is when a family is displaced because she inspects a rental unit that has such serious health and safety problems that it’s not livable. That happens every couple of months or so, and the department works with Community Advocates, a nonprofit group that helps poor people on housing issues, to relocate the displaced families.

“You want to try to give the best help you can give them,” she said.

Is there a particular horror story the stands out from your 13 years in the Department of Neighborhood Services? About five years ago, Tyler inspected a property where the gas meters were pulling away from the foundation wall, raising the risk of a natural gas leak and explosion. The department immediately shut down the property, which encompassed over 20 rental units in four buildings.

“The situation was so horrible. All of those people had to be removed from the buildings,” Tyler said. “We had a little meeting on the front lawn and told them we have to vacate the buildings immediately. It’s difficult, especially when that happens so close to the time when they just paid rent. Their concern becomes where are they going to live, and how are they going to pay the rent for that month.”

From “NTC students head back to class” — The first day of classes is now in the books at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.

NTC’s campus is once again alive with students. That includes a 19-year-old transfer from UW-Milwaukee.

It’s a day of introductions, nerves, and learning

NTC in Wausau has officially begun its fall semester. School officials say about 4,000 students are enrolled this fall. That includes 19-year-old Emily Worden.

“Stuff is just so much different down there than it is here, it’s just a lot better quality here,” said Worden.

Worden is from the Wausau area. When she graduated high school she wanted to try something new. So she applied and got accepted to UW-Milwaukee.

“I decided I had enough of the small scene so I was going to go down to Milwaukee and I absolutely loved it down there,” said Worden.

But now one year later Worden transferred to NTC, a place she says will definitely help her in becoming a nurse.

“I’m totally a hands-on person so to be there and just sitting there and not having examples to work on it was just like making me crazy,”said Worden.

She says the cost of tuition and close communication with professors are big reasons why Worden transferred to the college.

“You can get the help that you need and sufficient help to help get you in the direction you want to go,”said Worden.

Worden says her new direction will be an adjustment, but it’s one she’s willing to make for a bright future.

“It’s a new start for me I’m really excited,” said Worden.

Worden says she plans on getting her two-year degree from NTC. She says she might go back to UW-Milwaukee for her bachelor’s degree.


From “MPTC offers business workshops” — Moraine Park Technical College will offer several free entrepreneurship workshops and webinars this fall, open to anyone interested in learning more about business basics.

The workshops will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Fond du Lac campus, and 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Beaver Dam campus.

During the workshop, participants will learn what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, the anatomy of a business plan, the nuts and bolts of starting a business, types of business entities, regulations and requirements and available resources.

In addition to the entrepreneur workshop, Moraine Park offers classes for aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners including exploring business ideas, conducting research for business, pre-business planning, opportunity analysis, writing a business plan, website design, money management, marketing and human resources.


From “Project Mini Chopper” — It’s hard to believe it has been six years since the inception of Project Mini Chopper.

What started as a casual conversation in 2007 among local employers about the impending worker shortage has grown into an exciting collaboration among The Chamber of Manitowoc County, the Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County, Lakeshore Technical College, Manitowoc County school districts and area businesses.

It has been said that the true legacy of a good idea is in its sustainability. Although the economic conditions have changed considerably since 2007, one thing remains the same today as it did six years ago: the concern of having an adequately skilled workforce to sustain the needs of area employers.

This concern makes Project Mini Chopper just as relevant today as it was during its planning stages.

So what is the risk: a worker shortage or a skills gap?

Both. We all know that manufacturing has evolved from its repetitive and often low-skilled roots, to a highly-skilled and technically-agile workforce able to think strategically, solve problems, and work as a team.

The brawn-powered processes of yesteryear are replaced with brain-powered 21st century manufacturing methods with innovative, creative and adaptive prowess.

Gone are the days that a high school diploma (or even the lack of one) is ample qualification for a “factory job,” where you were all but guaranteed a lifetime of employment at a livable wage.

Today, without a post-secondary credential (ranging from an occupational certificate to an advanced degree), career options are severely limited. More than ever, postsecondary training is necessary to acquire the skills necessary to thrive in today’s efficiency-driven manufacturing world.

Project Mini Chopper exists, and continues to flourish, because of the skills gap (the gap between the skills possessed by the workforce and the skills needed by manufacturers).

Its mission is to convey to our youth, parents, and community the importance of acquiring the technical and soft skills needed by area employers, in addition to promoting the challenging opportunities awaiting them in 21st Century manufacturing careers.

Last year, four area companies invested both time and money in the development of our future workforce by sponsoring a Project Mini Chopper team: HMF Finishing sponsoring Two Rivers, Miller Ag-Bag sponsoring Lincoln, LTC sponsoring Valders, and Manitowoc Motor Machining, Eis Implement Inc., School District of Mishicot and Dowco co-sponsoring Mishicot.

Sponsoring companies make more than just a financial investment in their high school team. A company liaison is designated to collaborate on all aspects of the bike, from design to final build, in the process providing valuable professional mentoring throughout the project.

As mentioned earlier, through interaction with the company, school instructor and project committee members students learn important technical skills (mechanical design, welding, painting, electro-mechanical, materials management and procurement, and quality control), as well as the increasingly-important soft skills and management skills (budget, project and time management, teamwork, safety, problem-solving and public speaking).

Thus, Project Mini Chopper provides a well-rounded learning experience that will benefit students regardless of their post-graduation career track.

If you are interested in investing in this project and our future workforce, please call The Chamber, (920) 684-5575.

From “Nicolet’s new Dental Hygiene program receives national accreditation” — Nicolet College’s Dental Hygiene program recently received its academic seal of the approval from the national Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted initial accreditation.

The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

“This is great news, especially for the students in the Dental Hygiene program,” said Lenore Mangles, Nicolet dean of Health Occupations. “In order for students to take their licensure exam to work in the Dental Hygiene field, they must graduate from an accredited program. We are thrilled students in the Northwoods will now have that opportunity.”

The rigorous accreditation process started nearly a year ago and included a comprehensive review of numerous different aspects of Nicolet’s program. This included an evaluation of course content and the skills students would learn, a plan for students to get clinical training on patients of all ages with a broad range of oral health issues, instructor credentials, and the college’s partnership with dental clinics.

To meet the last requirement, the college has worked hand-in-hand with staff at the new Peter Christensen Dental Clinic in Lac du Flambeau. Students in Nicolet’s two-year Dental Hygiene program will get much of their training in this state-of-the-art facility.

Mangles also noted that there is still room in dental classes for Fall Semester, which starts Monday, Aug. 26.

For more information about Nicolet’s dental training programs, visit or call the college at 715-365-4451, 800-544-3039, ext. 4451; TDD 715-365-4448.

From “Proposal would move CVTC funding from property tax to sales tax” — By Jon Swedien – Republican backers of a bill that would overhaul the Wisconsin Technical College System say it would lower property taxes, but technical college officials fear it would hamstring their schools.

A trio of Republicans — including Rep. Tom Larson of the Dunn County town of Colfax, who co-signed the bill — are pushing for the overhaul as a way to reduce property taxes by removing technical colleges’ ability to raise money through local levies.

Instead, the bill proposes to fund technical colleges, including Chippewa Valley Technical College, with money from the state’s general fund.

The bill calls for a 1 cent increase in the Wisconsin sales tax, which would add money to the state’s coffers in order to cover the expense — although the new revenue would not be dedicated to technical colleges.

“As I was out doing doors, I can’t tell you how many times I ran into people worried about their property taxes,” Larson said, adding he’s especially concerned about senior citizens on fixed incomes. “This bill basically takes some of the burden off the tax roll — the property tax roll.”

Larson said a sales tax increase would be easier for people to stomach than the current technical college charge on their property tax bill.

The legislation also would move technical college employees onto the state payroll and transfer authority for technical college property away from local district boards to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. Under the bill, the district boards would be stripped of most of their decision-making authority.

Currently the WTCS Board provides policy oversight and program review, but decisions largely are made at the district level.

Local control

CVTC President Bruce Barker said a strength of the Technical College System is that the district boards are tapped into local business trends. This allows them to quickly adjust programs to best fit the current needs of local industry, he said. If Chippewa Valley businesses need more welders, CVTC ramps up its welding program, he said.

“How responsive would Madison be to local needs?” Barker said, adding that he doubts the Technical College System would be as nimble if decision-making were centralized in Madison.

Barker said he’s also concerned about funding technical colleges with sales tax revenue. Economic recessions, when sales tax revenue is likely to dip, is when technical colleges are needed most to train workers for available jobs, he said.

“That’s usually when we’re busiest,” he said.

Barker said he understands the call for property tax relief, but other ways could be done to accomplish it. He also noted that technical college levies, as with city and county levies, are capped.

Referendum required

If lawmakers approve the bill as written, the overhaul could be undertaken only if voters approve it in a statewide referendum.

Larson said that’s an important aspect of the bill. By calling a referendum, voters would have final say on the matter, he said.

The bill calls for a referendum question to be added to next spring’s elections ballot. The referendum could be pushed back if lawmakers feel more time is needed, Larson said.

Taxation without representation

A long-standing criticism of the Technical College System is that district boards can tax communities even though their members are appointed — not elected. Larson noted this bill would alleviate that issue.

The bill will be discussed Thursday during a hearing in Madison. Larson said the bill’s success will depend on whether Republican leadership backs the plan.

Republican Reps. John Nygren of Marinette and Garey Bies of Sister Bay also have signed onto the bill.

The Technical College System does not support the bill, although it is open to strategies for property tax relief, spokesman Conor Smyth said.

From “Employers, educators discuss student preparation for work” — By Hillary Gavan – Representatives from business and education joined together to discuss new ways to get students trained for the workforce at the 7th Annual Business Education Summit held Thursday at the Eclipse Center in Beloit.

Sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, School District of Beloit and Beloit College, the day’s theme was “Workforce Development – Are You Ready?”

At the event the 2nd Annual Business/Education Partnership Award for the business sector went to Blackhawk Bank accepted by CEO Rick Bastian. The award for the education sector went to the School District of Beloit, accepted by Superintendent Steve McNeal.

Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and McNeal welcomed crowds, and McNeal said it was a blessing to have forward thinking people to move the school district ahead.

McNeal noted there is non-referendum money being put into the Beloit Memorial High School’s new Technical Education Programming Space demonstrating the district’s commitment to getting kids into jobs. The School District of Beloit and City of Beloit, he said, are undergoing joint efforts to train kids for the workforce which rival any in the state.

After the Vice President of ManpowerGroup’s Global Strategic Workforce Consulting Practice Rebekah Kowalkski gave her keynote address, Economic Development Director for the Rock County Development Alliance James Otterstein gave a presentation on Inspire Rock County, a web-based career readiness platform which connects students with businesses and mentors and other resources to investigate careers and apply for jobs.

Susan Dantuma, from Blackhawk Technical College, talked about the college’s youth apprenticeship programs and Bob Borremans, from the Southern Wisconsin Workforce Development, spoke about the Work Today Program where employers in the program pay to have workers trained for job openings at their companies.

Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Jim Agate said he was pleased with the roundtable discussions which returned this year so educators and the business community could brainstorm together. In the past he said takeaways from the discussions included ideas which were implemented such as mock interviews and the lunch and learn program.

Agate said after Thursday’s events new plans would begin forming.

“We will put all our notes together and move forward,” he said.

Business/Education Partnership Committee Co-Chair Rick Barder said all of those on the Business/Education Partnership Committee put together a program and agenda that was relevant in today’s world with many takeaways for both the businesses and the education community.

Beloit City Manager Larry Arft said the event was a unique opportunity for educators and business as well as government leaders in the community to interact and to share perspectives regarding the needs of public education.

From “Back to School 2013: Local families try to keep college costs down” — Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where their children attend school. But are some people being priced out of a higher education?

President Obama announced major college financial aid changes last week.

He says it’s to stop middle class families from being “priced out” of an education.

Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where they attend school.

Like many, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College student Anna Sieving says she’s struggled paying for college.

“I started at UW-Milwaukee originally, and when finances got tight back in 2008, I ended up stopping my attendance there,” she said.

And cost was a major factor for Sieving to go back to school.

“I was looking at UWGB versus NWTC. It was half the price basically,” said Sieving.

“We’re a little more affordable than some other college options. We’re about $130 a credit,” said Mark Franks, director of financial aid for NWTC.

NWTC says many students eventually transfer to four-year UW schools after two years.

On UW-Green Bay’s campus, prospective student Kelly Vanderloop says living at home in Kaukauna might be an option to keep costs down.

“I do have a job, and I have been saving as much as I can. And I will have to get financial aid because there’s no way my parents can pay for it, and I don’t want to be really, really badly in debt,” said Vanderloop.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education says 57 percent of students receive financial aid.

Here in Northeast Wisconsin, that number is much higher.

At UW-Green Bay, 70 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid.

At NWTC, it’s 80 percent.

At St. Norbert, 98 percent of students receive financial aid.

There, the average student pays $40 thousand a year for tuition, room and board and fees.

The average financial aid award at St. Norbert is $26 thousand a year.

But the remaining $14 thousand that a student would be left to cover nearly equals the cost of attending a UW school and staying on campus.

St. Norbert College has one of the highest tuition costs for higher education in our area. So we asked families touring campus whether they feel they’re being priced out of an education.

“I don’t know if being priced out is a big issue, but going to a good school is always a big factor,” said Nate Stolte, a prospective student from New Berlin.

“I think that is the case for some students if they don’t have the support systems whether they be family or school or guidance, letting them know the resources available,” said his mom, Tracey.

Across town at NWTC, some students have a different view.

“Most definitely. I think a lot of students won’t be able to attend college because the college costs are going up, and it’s not like the wages are going up,” said Sieving.

We spoke to the experts, to find out what kind of help is available.

“I think if families prepare for it, they can certainly keep that cost down and keep that loan cost down,” said Sue Steeno, a financial aid counselor at UWGB.

Steeno says all students should fill out a FAFSA form, or a free application for student aid.

That will determine the eligibility for Pell Grants, scholarships and student loans.

“Pell Grants are the biggest federal grants. It goes to the neediest of the neediest students,” said Jeff Zahn, St. Norbert College financial aid counselor.

Zahn says 23 percent of students there receive Pell Grants.

But more higher-income families have been applying for scholarships.

“Even someone who earns 100 thousand dollars a year, if you’re looking at a cost of something of 40 thousand dollars a year, that’s a big commitment from them, right?” said Zahn.

And before they commit to a college, parents and students say they must calculate those costs, versus the eventual rewards of a higher education.

From “Fox Valley Tech Chosen to Review Outagamie County Storm Response” — A panel of experts at Fox Valley Technical College will conduct an independent review of Outagamie County’s August 7th storm response. A professional meteorologists will also be part of the review.

The sirens were silent as a severe storm tore across the county and spawned a number of tornadoes in the early morning hours of August 7th. The county Public Service Committee discussed possible discipline for the county’s Emergency Management director, Julie Loeffelholz.

In her defense, Loeffelholz says the National Weather Service never issued a tornado warning and no trained personnel or weather spotters reported tornadoes, but even if they had, she couldn’t have activated sirens because power was knocked out to the communications tower to signal them and the backup system she requested won’t be purchased and installed until 2014.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson requested an independent review, and put Outagamie Corporation Counsel Joe Guidote in charge of organizing the review panel.

Guidote says he chose FVTC “because of its expertise in public safety and emergency management training.” He says the panel will include people with credentials in law enforcement, and meteorology.

From “Young people learn how to create arcade games” — Rhinelander – Video games are sounds most parents don’t want to hear during the summer time.

What they might not know is these kids are learning to create arcade games.

“It’s a lot more complicated that people give it credit for. In fact building videos games is probably one of the most complicated areas of computer science,” said Computer Programming Instructor, Ethan Blue.

“So starting to develop these skills in a kid friendly way with the software we’re using really helps them to develop critical thinking, reasoning, using resources, things like that.” Young people in this class are between the ages 10 and 13 years old.

At Nicolet College they learn how to control characters, objects and create backgrounds for four days.

Instructor Ethan Blue said he didn’t want the first day of class to be boring.

“Kids tend to get sort of bored when you just talk about the idea behind logic and things like that. They want to play,” Blue said.

“So we start them making games right away. They start putting graphics in. It starts off simple and as things progress through the four-day camp, things get more complicated as they go.”

Making the video games sounds pretty cool, but there’s a lot of mathematics involved.

“You have to pretty much know like the X and Y axis’s and negative and positive numbers,” said 12 year old, Sebastian Wittig.

“If you screw it up, the game won’t work right. You’ll go through walls.”

After the program is over, an aspiring game designer says he might have his family try out his new game.

“I think my personalized game is pretty good. When the class is over I’ll try to make my brothers play it.” 10 year old, Keagan Brown said.

One message Blue wants parents to know about this program is kids will be kids.

“Just encourage your kids to be kids and to play and that’s really how you learn. That’s how I developed a love for learning and how I became an instructor at a college,” Blue said.

“So don’t just throw away video games just because they’re games. You can get a lot out of them too.”

From “International students arrive at FVTC” — GRAND CHUTE — Fox Valley Technical College’s Global Education & Services department welcomed nearly 180 international learners from close to 60 countries Wednesday for its 2013-14 academic year.

This is the highest number of international students ever in the department’s 23-year history at FVTC and represents more foreign learners than any other technical college in the state.

Most of these students visit FVTC to study agriculture, natural resources, information technology, and business-related programs to address immediate needs when returning to their homelands. This year’s group comes from Bangladesh, South Africa, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, El Salvador, Haiti, among others.

About 60 international students are participating on scholarship programs sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.

For more information on offerings through FVTC’s Global Education and Services, visit


From “Nanorite Center gets new name” — A small center that focused on tiny things is getting a bigger name.

The Nanorite Center opened at the Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire in 2007.   Its initial focus was on nanotechnology, micromachining and microfabrication.

But since then the center has also become home for other endeavors, including a regional data center and a program that allows businesses and entrepreneurs to use its high tech equipment.

The new name, approved by the Tech College Board, is the CVTC Applied Technology Center. CVTC says the new name more accurately describes the facility’s broadened scope.


From “Internet marketing expert to speak at Phillips Chamber of Commerce annual dinner” — John Carlson, marketing expert and instructor for Business & Industry Division of Northcentral Technical College’s Wausau campus, will be the featured speaker at the Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on Sunday, Aug. 25 at Club 13. Carlson will focus on small business marketing strategies with an emphasis on Internet marketing through the use of social media. Carlson’s appearance is being sponsored by the Phillips campus of Northcentral Technical College. Area Dean Bobbi Damrow will also speak to attendees about the college’s expansion and the opportunities and facilities that will be available to area businesses.

The Chamber will also honor 2013 Persons of the Year, the late Judi Boers and her husband, Tom, and Chris and Ron Kedziera of The Crazy Loon as 2013 Business of the Year.

All Chamber members are welcome to attend. Reservations are required by August 21. Call the Chamber at 715-339-4100 or email

In other Chamber news, planning for the 2013 Annual Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28 is underway. Prospective crafters and area organizations have been sent their applications to participate in the craft fair and Fall Taste of Phillips. Music will be provided by the Elk River String Bank and the Jim Pekol Polka Band, and other activities will be held. If you’d like to participate in the craft fair and didn’t receive an invitation, please contact the Chamber.

From “Daniels takes over as president at Madison College” — The new president at Madison Area Technical College is settling in.

President Jack Daniels started his new job Monday.

During an interview with 27 News, Daniels talked about presiding over a growing college, that will open four new buildings on its main campus this school year.

“You can build these great buildings but what happens inside those walls? And so, my focus is really on how have we engaged our students? How we help them meet their goals?”

Daniels comes to Madison College from Los Angeles Southwest College. But he’s not a stranger to the Midwest, also spending time as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois.

From “FVTC crime program earns honors” — Brad Russ, director of Fox Valley Technical College’s National Criminal Justice Training Center, accepted the Leadership Award from the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center at the national Crime Against Children Conference on behalf of FVTC.

The award recognizes Russ’s leadership at the NCJTC in providing training to more than 3,000 law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, child protection specialists and medical, mental health and victim service professionals. In addition, FVTC’s Phil Keith, program administrator of the AMBER Alert and Technical Assistance program, offered workshops at the conference on best practices in bringing home missing and abducted children.


From “Board helps launch metal manufacturing alliance” — In late May, the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board received a request from a manufacturing employer requesting current data and projections for two occupations in our region: welders and machinists. In response, we ran an initial report using Economic Modeling Services Inc., or EMSI, a labor market analysis software to which we subscribe.

EMSI uses U.S. Bureau of Workforce Information, U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Education Statistics and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development labor data among other sources for compiling occupation reports. Based on those sources, the occupational data is not “real time,” but is based upon precise sampling, generally with a six- to 12-month lag time. Educational output data is closer to “real time.”

To augment the EMSI-generated data, the board was asked by several employers to conduct a survey of 22 regional metal fabricators. The survey results revealed that the growth rate in the welding and machinist occupations was significantly greater than that projected by EMSI. That result is to be expected with any “real time” survey of employers (precisely why you see the disparity in unemployment numbers as the real survey of household reports is compiled).

The results prompted the board’s Business Services team to convene a meeting of the respondents to the survey and explore potential solutions to the demand for these and other manufacturing occupations.

Fifteen manufacturing company representatives met to discuss opportunities and partnerships that could help meet this identified occupation demand. Out of these discussions, the group formed the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturing Alliance.

Six representatives stepped forward to lead the steering committee of the alliance. Kathy Drengler of Greenheck and John Peterson of Schuette Metals were elected steering committee co-chairs. Other steering committee members are Tom Felch of J & D Tube Benders; Bill Wenzel of Northland Stainless; Julie Mahr of Sulzeer Machine; and Jim Frings of G3 Industries.

The new group identified the following key objectives to help build the pipeline of qualified workers:

• Promote metal manufacturing careers — get youths informed and excited about these occupations.

• Advocate for the necessary educational infrastructure to meet demand.

• Work collaboratively with other partners in the region already engaged in addressing the issues.

• Strengthen PK-16 relationship/partnerships, including further development of apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing.

• Inventory current initiatives to avoid duplication.

The group is working on two initiatives to increase capacity in the region. Both initiatives include Northcentral Technical College and methods to assist NTC in increasing its capacity to serve students and increasing interest in metal manufacturing careers.

For more information about NCWWDB’s Employer Services, call me at 715-204-1647 or email

From “NTC to offer manufacturing tech degree” — Northcentral Technical College will begin offering a new manufacturing technician technical diploma in the fall, and the Antigo campus will be one of two locations to host the program.

Instructor Mike Parizek works with student Dylan Zimmerman in Northcentral Technical College’s machine tool lab.

This one-year (29-31 credits) technical diploma is designed to prepare students for a variety of entry-level careers within the manufacturing sector. The new program incorporates portions of NTC’s machine tool operation technical diploma and welding technical diploma in order to give students a well-rounded education and make them more marketable to potential employers.

According to a survey conducted by the technical college, area manufacturers are placing an increased focus on hiring employees who have cross training in both the machine tool and welding areas.

“After conducting the survey and meeting with business leaders in our area, it became clear that many local companies are in need of employees with diverse skill sets,” Larry Kind, dean of NTC’s Antigo campus, said. “The manufacturing technician technical diploma is an ideal fit in that sense, as students gain valuable training in two high-demand areas.”

Throughout the course of the program, students will learn to use a drill press, power saw, elementary lathe, mills and pedestal grinders in the machine tool courses. The welding courses will provide a solid foundation for a single manual process.

For more information or to register, call the NTC Antigo campus at 715 623-7601 or visit

From “MSTC celebrates centennial with ride/walk” — In celebration of 100 years of central Wisconsin education and training in what is now known as the Mid-State Technical College, or MSTC, District, the MSTC Foundation is hosting a Centennial Bike Ride & Walk on Sept. 14. This non-competitive event includes 100K, 50K and 10K bike routes and a 10K walk option. All routes begin and end at MSTC’s Wisconsin Rapids Campus.

The 50K and 100K bike routes meander throughout north Wood County. The 10K bike and walk routes go around Lake Wazeecha in South Wood County Park. Beverage and snack stations will be provided for participants along each course.

Registration costs $25 per person and includes opportunities for prizes. Children 12 and younger are free and must be accompanied by an adult. An event T-shirt will be provided to all participants who register by Aug. 21. All biking participants must wear helmets.

Proceeds of this event support the educational programs of the college through educator and student grants and scholarships. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Additional information and the event registration form are available online at or call the MSTC Foundation office at 715-422-5322 or email

MSTC’s Centennial Celebration includes a total of five events during the 2013-14 school year. In addition to the Bike Ride & Walk, people throughout the college district are invited to attend centennial celebrations at each of MSTC’s four locations: Wisconsin Rapids Campus on Oct. 10, Marshfield Campus on Oct. 22, Adams County Center on Nov. 5, and Stevens Point Campus on June 4, 2014. Each celebration event honors MSTC’s past and celebrates its future. Centennial organizers say visitors of the final four events will have the opportunity to learn about new technologies, view fascinating hands-on demonstrations, tour facilities, and explore MSTC student services and academic programs.

MSTC, one of 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System, is a leading provider of higher education offering more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, including 10 Wisconsin Technical College System programs you will only find at MSTC. Student-focused and community-based, MSTC serves a resident population of approximately 165,000 in central Wisconsin with campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, and a learning center in Adams. Smaller classes, flexible scheduling, and instructor involvement all foster student success and contribute to the fact that nearly 9 out of ten MSTC graduates are employed within six months of graduation.

%d bloggers like this: